make some #connections this summer

June 30th, 2015

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day!

It’s that time of year again, as the temperature rises and schools close, we start making plans for the summer. No matter whether you’re planning to take a big vacation or find fun and excitement in York Region, know that Viva is there to make your trips for work, shopping or playing a fast and enjoyable experience.

But on a day like today, we’re concentrating on the fun. Join us at events across York Region this summer in your community.  This July 1, our vivaNext team will be out celebrating Canada Day at the Kanata Summer Festival in Newmarket.

itching for ways to win?

Pick up a scratch ‘n’ win card from our vivaNext team at your next community event. We’ll be handing out vivaNext scratch cards for a chance to win one of 12 PRESTO cards, or one of three iPad Air 2 tablets. Both are perfect for getting you around town or staying connected to the people and places we love most. A PRESTO card is the most convenient way to get around town, connecting YRT/Viva, GO buses and trains, and the TTC with one card! And the iPad Air 2 is equally convenient for business or pleasure with a wide selection of apps to choose from [like this one, perhaps?]. For complete details, visit our website, or go straight to the rules and regulations.

up for a challenge?

For those who enjoy games check out our summer on-line game – another PRESTO card is up for grabs. The highest score wins, so play early and often to better your score. Play the #Connections Summer Game here.

Davis Drive walking tours in Newmarket

Looking for something to do this summer? Show your support for Davis Drive businesses with a short, guided walking tour of the new rapidways under construction. See the progress in action! Best of all, you’ll receive a $10 voucher to use at a participating Davis Drive restaurant on the day of your tour. Space is limited, so please register for a date and time convenient to you.

There is a lot happening around town and we hope to see you out and about this summer. In the meantime, Happy Canada Day everyone!

 

bus rapid transit system is a global phenomenon, up nearly 400% over 10 years

June 29th, 2015

BRT system is a global phenomenon

At vivaNext, we’re working hard to build a Bus Rapid Transit [BRT] system. And we’re not alone! Our vision of fast, reliable and convenient BRT service is shared by many cities and regions, all over the world.

Bus Rapid Transit is a global phenomenon that has nearly quadrupled over the last 10 years, growing 383% worldwide from 2004 to 2014, according to data compiled by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

 

buses! buses!

Former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, Enrique Peñalosa, said it best with his rally cry: “Buses! Buses! Buses! Buses!” That was his response to a suggestion that some municipalities might benefit from a subway.

Indeed, for many cities and regions, BRT simply makes sense. A BRT system can be built at a fraction of the cost and time of a rail system – in the span of a few years instead of a decade or more – and still provide service that can be just as reliable, fast and frequent as a train.

More cities and regions are turning to BRT as their transportation solution, with 1,849 kilometres of new lines added globally in the last decade. In York Region, our contribution was the six- kilometre stretch of rapidway on Highway 7 East! And that’s just the beginning.

 

32 million global BRT riders every day

Around the world, 32 million people ride BRT every day, according to the global database BRTData.org.  That’s 5,087 kilometres of BRT lines in 193 cities.

The undisputed global leader of the movement is Latin America with nearly 20 million passengers, followed by Asia with 8.7 million. Brazil is the birthplace of BRT, and the country with the largest network of systems; nearly 12 million passengers a day in 34 cities!

Bus Rapid Transit grew the most in China with construction of 552 new kilometres over the last decade, followed by Brazil with 345 kilometres, and Mexico with 234 kilometres, according to the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

Closer to home in North America, BRT is a small but growing phenomenon with one million passengers in 27 cities. The United States was fourth worldwide in terms of growth, with 104 kilometres of new lanes built in the last 10 years.

 

9.6 million annual riders on Highway 7 East rapidway

Here in York Region, we’re working hard to bring the vivaNext vision to life. Our current plan will include 34 kilometres of rapidway once construction is complete, connecting the communities of Markham, Vaughan, Richmond Hill and Newmarket. That includes the six kilometres already running in Markham. We’re also forging connections with the Spadina Subway Extension, and advancing plans for the Yonge North Subway Extension. In 2014, our Highway 7 East rapidway in Markham had 9.6 million riders, so we’re well on our way.

We’re building rapidways but the true end product is something much greater – mobility. Mobility makes everything possible. Because BRT runs in designated lanes it’s not subject to the whims of traffic. When our rapidways are complete, people will know they can rely on Viva service to get where they need to go – to work, to school, and to life.  As our communities grow and roads get more congested, our rapidway system will be ready to meet the growing demands of our region – part of a global movement moving people forward into the future

 

those carefree summer days are here!

June 25th, 2015

those carefree summer days are here

School’s wrapping up and summer’s here! Are you excited? We are. Summer is the time of year when vivaNext gets a lot done. This summer, work on our Davis Drive rapidway in Newmarket is entering the home stretch, and we’re excited to see it taking shape. We’re also widening roads and paving in Vaughan on Highway 7 West, and last but not least we are putting the final touches on our Highway 7 rapidway in Markham in preparation for the Pan Am Games.

Summer is a great time for you to get things done too – important things like swimming, cycling, camping and barbecues.

Warm weather and no school mean carefree days, which is why it’s more important than ever to drive carefully. Children and teens will be running around having the time of their lives. Sometimes they run into the streets without looking, skateboard on busy streets, or do other things you wouldn’t expect. It’s motorists’ job to be extra vigilant, helping our kids stay safe.

In our busy lives, driving sometimes feels like a race from one place to the next. Is it really worth the rush? Sidestepping rules of the road by talking on a cell phone or rolling through a stop sign can be tempting. But, take your time. Slow down and enjoy the summer. Keep your attention on the road and watch for construction detours, speed signs and children.

And if you find driving is becoming a little tedious, you can try Viva, which is running throughout York Region. As you know, six kilometres of bus rapid transit are already running in Markham from Bayview to Warden, providing travel times that are as much as 35% faster, so experience it firsthand.  This route will be a fast, convenient alternative to driving your car throughout the Pan Am Games this summer.

However you choose to get around, we hope you make the most out of your summer – drive with care and be safe!

 

realizing the vision of leafy, tree-lined streets

June 19th, 2015

realizing the vision of leafy, tree-lined streets

Planter boxes and trees are coming to Highway 7 in Vaughan! Along with the paving [have you heard about all the paving?] activity that’s been happening along the rapidway construction, you’ll soon be seeing crews building planter boxes between Jane Street and the CN Bridge.

The arrival of the planters is a big deal – to us and to the neighbourhood – because these structures will be housing trees and plants.

One of the most desirable qualities of a livable neighbourhood is the presence of trees. And at vivaNext, we have very deliberately designed the rapidways with this vision of a tree-lined, livable neighbourhood in mind. Part of our goal with the new boulevards is to bring to life the “complete street” concept – the guiding philosophy for our streetscape design.

As development continues and the population in York Region grows, it means that there will be more people walking and riding along the rapidway routes. So we’ve made sure that our boulevard design is going to be visually appealing as well as functional. And the trees and plants we’ve planted will grow to shade the area for everyone to enjoy.

If you want to see how green the Vaughan area of the rapidway will eventually become, take a look at Highway 7 East. The Markham section of the vivaNext rapidway is bursting with growing, thriving trees and greenery, thanks in part to all the sunshine and large amount of rain we’ve had.

However, most of you will probably notice that Mother Nature is getting quite a bit of help along the way. Landscaping crews are currently out there every day, installing planter boxes, planting flowers, bushes, and grasses, topping up topsoil and distributing mulch, planting new trees and replacing the few that didn’t survive the winter.

As you go for a stroll, ride your bike, drive, or take a bus ride along the rapidway[!], be sure to look around you and take in the newly tree-lined greenery-filled boulevard on Highway 7 East.

If you’d like to subscribe to email updates about the progress of the vivaNext project, click on this subscriber link, or go to our homepage at vivaNext.com and scroll down to “subscribe.”

 

working hand-in-hand

June 17th, 2015

working hand-in-hand

Sometimes the best way to get through big, complex tasks is to split the workload – divide and conquer. This is especially true with York Region’s transit network, so we work alongside the Transportation Services Department.

With strategic plans in place, the Transportation Services Department plans the overall transportation network, including roads, transit and cycling. They create a Transportation Master Plan, which takes into account many factors, including ideas from residents, population growth and other statistics, provincial mandates like Places to Grow, and environmental protection measures like the Greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine. They also build and maintain roads, and through YRT/Viva, operate conventional YRT transit, Mobility Plus and Viva rapid transit.

At vivaNext [York Region Rapid Transit Corporation], we put the rapid transit part of the Transportation Master Plan in place. We work with all levels of government to acquire funding for each new project, whether it’s Bus Rapid Transit rapidways, subways, or transit facilities. We design and build these projects – including details like station locations and designs, sidewalks and lighting.

As the project manager, we set timelines and manage construction contracts. The rapidways are major infrastructure projects requiring careful scheduling and seamless handovers when each project goes into service. At this end point, the operations are handed over to YRT/Viva, and the maintenance is done by either York Region or the local municipality, depending on who owns the road.

At vivaNext we have some projects in place already, more scheduled for the next four years, and a few projects yet to be funded. Along with York Region’s growing population, there’s a growing need for transit. So there’s a lot to do, and we’re working hand-in-hand to get everything done.

If you’re looking for a few videos, you can get a glimpse of the transformation of York Region, see what York Region’s Transportation Services does, or just catch a little excitement.

 

private time on public transit

June 12th, 2015

private time on public transit

The Toronto Star recently ran a piece on how the TTC has become an extension of “home” for its users. While he remarked that some people do things not normally considered polite for public spaces, Urban Affairs writer Christopher Hume also noted that even with less privacy, riders have more freedom.

“Even in a moving subway,” he wrote, “it’s easier to put on lipstick than it is driving on Highway 401. It’s also easier to eat, drink, read and tend to one’s appearance.”

People who use transit regularly use the time in a variety of ways that are either impossible or risky when driving a car. They read books, work on laptops, watch TV, talk to other riders, snooze – and yes, put on makeup or simply stare into space at the end of a busy day.

They don’t worry about being cut off in traffic or being stuck behind a sander during a snowstorm. Parking and finding a gas station are also non-issues, and riders save thousands of dollars a year in car depreciation, gas and insurance. And let’s not forget that they also get tax credits for transit passes like the Viva Monthly Pass.

If you trade your car keys for a transit seat, you might just find yourself with time on your hands!

 

engaging the community – and listening to you

June 9th, 2015

engaging the community – and listening to you

One of the best things about springtime is how much more we all get outside – and that especially includes the many events in the communities in York Region. From festivals to farmers markets, home shows and other events, it’s important that we’re out and about, talking and listening to you.

In April, many of you visited us at our booth at the Aurora Home Show, where we were able to chat with several hundred people. People were very interested in making sure the Heritage Area along Yonge Street is properly protected – we were able to reassure you of the plans for Viva to continue to drive in mixed traffic through the Heritage blocks, rather than widening the road as in other areas. We also attended the Newmarket Home Show in March to make ourselves available to the community to answer questions and talk about the Rapidway and the construction along Davis Drive. We had some good conversations – this community remains very engaged in the plans and are looking forward to the end of construction!

In May, we were at the Richmond Hill Home Show talking about the Highway 7 East and Yonge Street rapidways, and we shared in the fun at York Region’s Family Fun Day in East Gwillimbury.

Throughout the summer, you’ll continue to see us at festivals and events. And throughout the year, we’ll be talking to business owners, property owners and local communities to ensure everyone is aware of ongoing and upcoming construction activities, and to help you plan ways of dealing with temporary road diversions and lane closures. Because we’re building where you live, shop, work and play, you’ll be seeing Community Liaisons and other vivaNext people at different events and festivals to help keep everyone informed.

Want more information on where you’ll find the vivaNext team? Check out our Community Events page.

 

working in harmony with the weather

May 28th, 2015

working in harmony with the weather

As Canadians, we tend to be a little bit obsessed with the weather, and no wonder. With such extreme fluctuations, our climate affects everything we do: our commutes, our weekend plans and our way of life. Watching the Weather Network is one of our national pastimes, right up there with hockey.

At vivaNext, our crews work in all kinds of weather to build a rapid transit system for York Region.

When the sun shines, crews push forward to get the job done. But when the forecast is for thunderstorms, extreme heat or cold, heavy rain or snow, our crew leaders have to assess the situation and decide whether or not to work. Then they make a call, for the safety of their people and the success of the project.

extreme heat

At this time of year, extreme heat poses a major weather hazard. Paving when it’s 35°C can be dangerous for the health of our crews, and plain miserable as well. However, a worker in a trench below ground may find it cool enough to work in extreme heat.

thunderstorms

Lightning and thunder are a no-go from a safety perspective. But as we all know, the weather report is a changeable beast. When the forecast is thunderstorms, contractors building vivaNext rapidways have to make tough decisions. They can bring their crews out and then find it’s too stormy to work. Or they can call off work for the day, only to find the storm never comes and a perfectly good working day is lost. The decision comes down to safety.

rain

Crews can pave in light rain for one or two days, but eventually wetness takes a toll. A tarp or cover can be used when pouring concrete in the rain, while waiting for it to cure. The safety of the men and women working on vivaNext projects is a top priority. Rain can make construction sites slippery, muddy and dangerous, and pose undue hazards.

underground weather

The weather underground is another factor. While it may be sunny and warm where we are, temperatures drop below ground.  Digging frozen ground can be a challenge and can damage equipment.

the bottom line

When our crew leaders decide not to work in bad weather, they’re thinking of the safety of the men and women they lead, and the success of the project.

Crews take advantage of Mother Nature by capitalizing on the good weather to drive vivaNext rapidway construction forward and we are happy to report we have had a great start to the construction season this year!

The result will be a transit network York Region will be proud to call its own, a legacy that keeps our communities moving forward into the future.

 

paving season is always a good news story

May 25th, 2015

click here to see the paving video!

If it’s spring, it must be paving season! [see the video]

It’s not unusual for us at vivaNext to get very excited about paving season because it is always a good news story. The fact is construction can be dusty and disruptive – but, just like seeing the leaves open up on the trees in spring – the surest sign that the heavy construction is nearing its end is when the paving crews arrive.

Currently, as platform construction continues for the future vivastations along Highway 7 in Vaughan, the next segments of base-layer paving have begun between Edgeley Blvd./Interchange Way to Keele St. This paving will be completed in sections over the next two months and will include closures and detours.

One question you may be asking is why do crews revisit a section once it’s paved? The process happens layer by layer, which is why the crews will come back to the same location more than once. Because Highway 7 has to bear the load of regular traffic and heavy vehicles, we need to start with a solid base layer to make sure the road holds up over time.

To create the red pavement on the rapidways, we use a special pigment that is carefully mixed to achieve the right balance of rich red and rugged durability.

Each step needs to be done in sequence, and takes a certain amount of time. While the paving itself doesn’t take more than a few hours, fresh pavement can’t handle traffic right away. Also, we plan the work outside of busy business traffic times of the week, and the day – for example, crews typically work overnight and on weekends – weather permitting.

To stay informed about the paving activities along Highway 7 in Vaughan this spring and summer, check out our paving page at vivaNext.com/paving7. On vivanext.com you can also find Davis Drive paving and construction info, and sign up for construction updates.